Meal Bank, Kendal LA9
The building is primarily of significance as a rare example of a Catholic chapel incorporated into a private house during penal times. The interior of the chapel has eighteenth and nineteenth century fittings.
Robert Stephenson was from a Catholic family of yeoman stock which had married well. He acquired the Manor House at Dodding Green in 1687, and used the house to shelter priests. The first chapel was in the attic, with its own hiding places for the priest and the sacred vessels and vestments. Before he died in 1723, Stephenson handed over the house for use by a resident priest. This arrangement continued for some time, and although there were intervals when the house was tenanted by others, even then it would be visited by ‘riding priests’. After the passing of the second Relief Act a new church was built at Kendal, but Dodding Green continued to be used as a clergy residence and to house a chapel. In 1840 the Revd C. Brigham built an extension to the house which bears the date and his initials. He also made improvements to the chapel.
The chapel was redecorated in 1999, with new lighting and electric storage heaters, renewal of the stone flagged floor, porch and door, addition of a decorative cornice and some alteration to the ceiling above the sanctuary. At this time, the chapel’s artefacts were also cleaned.
Catholic chapel and presbytery. Mid to late C17 with alterations and additions of early C18, c1840 and 1940. Rainwater head to north end: “RSA/1682” (Robert and Alice Stevenson). Roughcast stone with slate roof. East facade of 2 storeys and 3 bays, end bays project under gables. Wide eaves and verges. Windows are mostly sashed with glazing bars, but 1st and 3rd bays of ground floor have casements, and 3rd bay of 1st floor has 3-light straight-headed window with label mould, cusped lights and leaded glazing lighting chapel. South facade of 2 bays, the 1st bay gabled, with datestone reading: “CB/1840”. Windows are cross-mullioned, with casements. Plaster plaque to 2nd bay reads: “HAEC DOMUS/RENOVATA/EST/A. S. MCMXL/RJGK”. Gabled porch, has half-glazed doors. North elevation has small gabled porch with segmental- headed entrance to return. External stair to 1st floor lean-to porch. 2 1st floor windows of 2 lights as to east facade lighting chapel. West elevation has C18 gabled wing to 1st bay, with smaller gabled wing attached. 2nd bay has rounded stair projection with 1st floor 3-light window; to right, a ground floor casement window with above a projection in angle with later range, connected with priest hide. Later range is gabled to returns, of C18, with sashed windows with glazing bars, C19 extension to south. Interior: Chapel has C19 altar, reredos and wall paintings to east end; C18 altar rails have turned balusters. 6-fielded-panel door to house. Original stair is semi-circular. 2 separate flights round octagonal newels. Early C18 stair has square newels, turned balusters and moulded handrail and string. Cupboard to 1st floor is round-headed with fluted Corinthian pilasters, archivolt and cornice, fielded-panel doors. The house was left to the Catholic Church in 1723 by Robert Stevenson to serve as a chapel and presbytery, having already been in use for some years as a Mass centre. See R.C.H.M. Inventory: Westmorland.
Architect: Not known
Original Date: 1723
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II